Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Random Notes

This one's a long one, but it's the first one in a few weeks...

Doctor Who

I have officially decided that I will not make any effort to be a book completist, even just with the new stuff. I resisted the temptation to get the official BBC kid books (the sticker books and such, as opposed to the NDAs). But the clincher is Back in Time: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Doctor Who. It's a Christian critique, apparently dealing mainly with the new series. That's almost enough to make it eminently missable, but given that a self-identified Christian Who-associated writer, Philip Purser-Hallard, says it's a bit of a mess and pushes intelligent design (sorry, neither), I shall be only too happy to give the book a pass.

Christmas Invasion? Fun. Not enough Tennant to really judge, and in reading J. Shaun Lyon's Back to the Vortex a few days ago I think I found an inconsistency (is the PM really likely to be a successful three-term prime minister after the Doctor uses those six little words?), but more than enough to keep us entertained and intrigued about both the next season and Torchwood. Speaking of Lyon's book, imagine concentrating a year or two of Outpost Gallifrey news stories on the new series into a cohesive story, and you've got the first half of the book. The second is summaries and critiques of the Eccleston era episodes by several people. It's written very much from a fan perspective, not an insider perspective, so it's like reliving the last couple of years. As such, I think I might have enjoyed it better if I'd waited until more time had passed. Worthwhile, though, and certainly informative. Also worthwhile was Endgame, the first reprint collection of Eighth Doctor comic strips from Doctor Who Magazine.


A few developments. Bought and watched The Call of Cthulhu on DVD. Rather than try to realistically film a story that involves several locations, ships at sea, islands rising from below the ocean, and of course Cthulhu himself and his city of R'lyeh, on a shoestring budget, the creators of this short film took a very different approach. The film is a stylized attempt at recreating the feel of the early days of filmmaking, circa the time Lovecraft wrote the original story, so it's a silent piece (with a musical soundtrack) with German expressionist influences. It's a remarkable piece of work, rather like watching a stage performance in some respects, because the artificiality of it all is so evident. You have to either buy wholly into the experience or just marvel at the ingenuity.

We also bought Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, the new Xbox game, but I haven't managed to get very far into it yet. It looks good so far, but you can't just save the game whenever you'd like to, so you have to have a lot of time to sit in front of the TV to play a level. Still, the atmosphere is remarkable, and the gameplay unique -- in my experience, at least.

On their way by mail are a couple of Lovecraftian books, Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas (Jack Kerouac and his Beat generation pals versus Cthulhu mythos entities) and Tales Out of Dunwich, a collection of mostly mythos fiction plus a story that apparently inspired Lovecraft. It's edited by Robert M. Price, who edited a number of Chaosium's Lovecraftian anthologies, which helped regenerate my interest in Lovecraftiana about a decade ago. And speaking of Chaosium, their first mythos anthology in some time, The Tsathoggua Cycle, is out now, so I'll have to get that... and probably Inverted Kingdom, too, the second of Kurodahan's four-volume series of Japanese Cthulhu mythos fiction in English translation. The cultural differences gave the book a freshness a lot of other mythos anthologies just don't have.

Film noir (with a Star Trek connection)

I've rambled about how much I love the work of Cornell Woolrich, the novelist and short story writer whose dark crime fiction inspired a lot of movie adaptations, not least of them Hitchcock's Rear Window. I finally found a dirt-cheap DVD set with one I've been curious about for a long time: Fear in the Night, starring none other than DeForest Kelley as a man who wakes from a nightmare about murdering someone... and finds evidence that it may not have been just a nightmare. Unfortunately, it wasn't all that great. Kelley isn't bad, but he's not as good as I'd hoped, either. It's a cheap-looking movie, for the most part, and the story's something that might have seemed novel sixty years ago but comes off almost as a bad joke now. It wasn't so bad that I regret seeing it, but I have so many better Woolrich movies (Phantom Lady, The Black Angel, Rear Window, even Deadline at Dawn) that I won't be in a rush to watch this again.

Star Wars, those crazy Star Wars

Laura and I have spent so much time playing Battlefront, Battlefront II, Republic Commando, and (Laura only, so far) Knights of the Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic II on Xbox that we've been immersed in the Star Wars galaxy a lot over the last few months. Laura's actually been wanting to see the movies again, even though we didn't like the prequels much when we saw them the first time around, but we saw them at Costco on Sunday, not too expensive, and bought all six. (All we had before was an old pan and scan VHS version of Star Wars, fortunately not the special edition.)

So on Sunday we watched The Phantom Menace and last night we watched Attack of the Clones and you know what? They're still absolutely awful as movies, as far as inconsequential things like plot, dialogue, and acting are concerned. But they are very good eye candy, and the real fun in watching them was seeing more of the locations (Naboo, Geonosis, etc) that we're used to blowing stuff up in in games. The movies are about the least important part of Star Wars, as far as we're concerned; it's the long tradition of really good PC and video games that keeps us interested in that universe. (Sentimental trivia: Laura and I saw The Phantom Menace with my sister and her husband before we'd started officially dating; Laura lent me her Dark Forces game around the same time, and I played it to death.)

(Now playing: the Psychedelic Furs, "Mack the Knife," B Sides And Lost Grooves.)


At 9:40 PM, Anonymous Wesley said...

So if you read this how is that Deforest Kelley movie? I read From Sawdust To Stardust and i think that it was his first "major" movie. I love your website. It is extensive and i tried being a trek completist but i was born about 20 years too late. I only have 200 trek books but i'm working on it. I also have a few books you don't have listed. I'll let you know the info on them when i get a chance. If you want it.



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